"Mrs. Tilley Had a Very Hasty Wedding!": The Class-Based Response to Marriages in the Grenfell Mission of Newfoundland and Labrador
Canadian bulletin of medical history = Bulletin canadien d'histoire de la médecine 2010; 27(1): 123-38
The International Grenfell Association (IGA) attracted hundreds of single young women for nursing in northern Newfoundland and Labrador between 1939 and 1981. Under contract with the Mission, the Grenfell nurse was expected to behave in a non-sexual manner and uphold a strict moral code of behaviour. However, the Grenfell experience provided nurses with a unique opportunity for socializing with young men who ranged the social spectrum, from fishermen and labourers to medical professionals. This paper highlights the relationships and marriages of the nurses that developed during or immediately after their tenure with the IGA and evaluates the Grenfell Mission's class-based responses to those relationships. The administration responded either positively or negatively to nurses' marriages, depending on the socioeconomic background of the husband in question. Marriages to physicians or dentists were almost always celebrated while marriages to local men were usually questioned or treated with ambivalence. From the perspective of the IGA, the social status of the nurse could be raised or lowered depending on the socioeconomic background of her marriage partner.